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n8            A SEARCH IN SECRET EGYPT
in this venerable building dedicated to tranquil world-forgetting devotion, his mind intent on the afternoon prayer, some of the lines disappeared from his skin and a mellow peace crept slowly across his face. One could read his feelings so easily. Did they not say:
UO Allah, the Victorious, the Pardoner, verily Thou has ordained Thy servant's life to run hardly, yet surely Thou knowest what is best for him. It is good once more to prostrate oneself before Thee and to praise Thee. Hath not Thy Prophet, upon whom be peace, declared: Tear not, neither be ye grieved, but rejoice in the hope of Paradise which hath been promised unto you/ Exalted, therefore, be Allah, the Almighty King, the Truth!"
Here was a man who had the courage to confide his life, blindly, if you like, to the all-powerful care of Allah; and, evidently, he never regretted it. He accepted -whatever came; the good along with the bad, with the venerable phrase: "Inshallahl" (if God wills!).
I turned my face away and caught sight of a pious Moslem, who looked like a merchant iust arrived from his bazaar booth. He stood in the prescribed attitude with his face towards the east and his feet slightly apart, his open hands raised on each side of his face and touching his ears, and then, sonorously, uttered the salutation: "God is most great!" He dropped his hands to his waist and murmured for a while the opening chapter of the Quran. Then he slipped his hands to his knees, inclining his body a little and spreading his fingers, and said: "May God hear him who praiseth Him!" And, thus, he continued, bowing in accompaniment to his prayer, dropping to the floor from time to time in the thirteen-hundred-year-old postures prescribed for the orthodox Muslim. At the end, he turned his head and looked down at his right shoulder and said, as though addressing the rest of the congregation: "Peace be upon you, and the mercy of God." Turning his head to the left, he repeated the same blessing. He remained squatting for a while before he got up and quietly left the mosque. His soul had poured out its love to Allah and now he could return in peace to his wares,
There were several others, too, all men, engaged in prayers that seemed all-absorbing, and who betrayed no awareness of their external surroundings. Eyes and thoughts must be stayed on Allah, the Prophet Muhammed had said, and they carried